Hyperganic, a Germany-based developer of AI-driven design software, has created a prototype of a 3D printed rocket engine designed entirely using artificial intelligence. The 3D printed engine is designed to be built in a single piece, integrating several components, like the combustion chamber and surface channels, into one structure.
Founded in Munich in 2015, Hyperganic is a developer of design software that leverages cutting-edge technologies and algorithms to generate complex and functional designs. The company’s software is specifically programmed to design components and products for 3D printing.
In this case, the Hyperganic team utilized its AI-driven design platform to generate a rocket engine prototype with a holistic and optimized design. In creating the engine, the team input the core features of the rocket engine in the software, including the shape of the combustion chamber and cooling performance requirements. Based on this data, an algorithm generated a geometry that met all specifications.
Using AI algorithms to design parts offers an interesting new perspective. That is, while human designers can think outside the box, often the design process entails rethinking an existing design or working with a frame of reference. With an algorithm, however, such mental constraints are irrelevant, and totally new design concepts can be created, while still meeting certain performance requirements.
Hyperganic’s rocket engine prototype is a good example of this. The innovative design offers a consolidated alternative to traditional rocket engines, with integrated cooling channels and combustion chamber. This streamlined design also results in a lighter weight and more effective cooling, according to Hyperganic design director Duy-Anh Pham. Part of the lightweighting was achieved by integrating a more porous geometry towards the exterior of the engine, while still maintaining a strong and dense inner structure.
The prototype is designed to be 3D printed from Inconel 718, an aerospace-grade nickel alloy, and the company says results from tests (as well as simulations) can be fed back into the design software to improve the next design iteration. Hyperganic says it is now in talks with several aerospace companies about its approach for engine design.
In 2019, the Munich-based software firm was recognized as a winner of the 3D Pioneers Challenge for its “Rocket combustion chamber demonstrator built through generative algorithms.”